Fable: The Journey Vs Kinect Star Wars
Round two of our Kinect coverage from Microsoft Showcase.
Today we match two of the biggest names appearing on the tech - one synonymous with Xbox's own journey to the heart of core, the other a name recognised across the globe and likely the biggest casual seller for Kinect since Dance Central. Fable Vs Star Wars.
For the Core: Fable: The Journey
Molyneux is on the defensive. Where Capcom's developers, decked out in military uniform, were running you through the gauntlet of controls for Steel Battalion, Lionhead's (soon to be ex-)chief stood facing a lone chair in the next room, and let a volunteer from the press learn their way through the demo of Journey.
It's an ethos in stark contrast to what's happening on the other side of the wall, but perfectly fitting for the studio - experimentation, learning and the free-form enjoyment that comes from it. Horse-riding, or more accurately guiding, and spell casting, all through a series of gestures from both hands.
It's a shame the studio head feels the immediate need to argue the reason of this newest Fable, as it sells itself well enough come watching and playing. The connection between player and horse is a logical step from Fable's dog, and the petting and tending to wounds from arrows or cuts - tactile interaction to build a relationship a continuation of themes explored by Kinectimals.
It's only after watching the latest guinea pig yank arrows out of the horse's side that Molyneux tells us that you're capable of pushing rather than pulling, burrowing the head deeper into flesh and causing the animal further distress.
Its the non-riding segments that may need more explanation and work - spell casting on the right hand strengthened by raised voice or hold hand back for a time a wonderful idea, but likely not noticeable unless telegraphed by clear instruction first, while the demon tentacles, controlled with the left hand and capable of gripping enemies or objects and tossing them with a flick, seemed unresponsive at times.
We talk to his Molyneux's press agent while waiting for a post-presentation interview. She tells us how much she loves the game, as it's not centred on shooting and killing but exploration and interaction, and how she can see her parents playing it. While the source of the comment can be biased given her role, the opinion still holds true: there is an audience for this game, and dismissing it for what it's not isn't the same as appreciating it for what it's trying to achieve. A Kinect game with core bones and casual flesh? It's not without precedent.
For the Casual: Kinect Star Wars
In our head we circle round that argument that there's no such thing as a poor Star Wars game - the licence alone magnifies any experience to enjoyable levels. Even the PSOne Phantom Menace tie-in was decent due to the lightsaber action. Kinect Star Wars is likely no different.
What we saw was a twenty minute hands-off demonstration divided across the main Jedi campaign set at the end of Episode I, Podracing career and Rancor Rampage (still a great band name in the making if someone could sort out the copyright).
Of the three Podracing looked the strongest, and that's due to it recalling the classic Sega arcade cabinet that was released in the wake of Phantom Menace. The game's now got optional 3D, a decision made in light of Episode I's recent re-release and which really benefits the racing - we tore round Tatoonie, and a full career mode will offer tracks from across the galaxy. With its simple controls - not a million miles away from Fable: The Journey, yanking left or right hand back and forth to steer - and high speeds, it emulates the rush from the big-screen set piece.
Rampage has improved massively from the lag-ridden mess we witnessed at Gamescom, aided by a healthy visual polish. In fact, the entire game, including most notably the Jedi campaign, is consciously adopting an art style closer to the Clone Wars cartoon rather than the aping the movies.
The notoriety meter is a neat addition, Empire presence increasing the more destruction you create. We're in Mos Eisley, Clone Troopers replaced by speeder bike squads as the developer slams both fists down to create earthquakes, and mimics pulling them across the floor to perform a building-blasting charge move.
We saw neither Duels of Fate, which lets you tackle villains such as Darth Vader not seen in the prequel trilogy timeline, or the Dance Central-style mode. In a move that could be insane genius or just insane, the mode ejects Williams masterful score for popular songs re-recorded in Jabba Palace style. They're missing a trick if they don't release the cuts as a full album.
Whether the overall package manages to perfect its Kinect control, or even if the different modes add up to more than a series of brief mini-games, expect this one to sell like hot cakes.
You can read our previous Vs feature, in which we pit Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour against Kinect Rush, here.